2013Datacide 13Fiction

EARTH ‘A RUN RED: Impressionistic notes on Pierre Guyotat’s ‘Tomb for 500,000 Soldiers’

A readers-report on Pierre Guyotat’s Tomb for 500,000 Soldiers, Trans., Romaine Slocombe, Creation Press, 2003.

“The world is about to end. Its sole reason
for continuance is that it exists, And how
feeble is this reason, compared with those
that announce the contrary…”
— Charles Baudelaire

Most books demand solitude, this one screams for solitude, for you to take yourself away from any still-pulsing, breathing encumbrance; so as to exist, in single file, as a witness to the death of humanity across turned pages.

No more than one witness at a time is necessary, efficacious.

Otherwise there’ll be a lack of continuation, propagation.

Like Marx, this book is an anti-aphrodisiac – a stark reminder that all was, in fact, has been, lost.

Not least paradise, space, place, corridors of even a bureaucratic beauty.

Converted too late, we defend symbols to then be symbolised.

Start again. The post-human rings out in its own absence.

The overman, or something more abstractly sexed, is here to be built-up from the miniscule moments of bleak poetic relief:

dust runs in the folds of the curtains

a pink cloud passes in the frozen lake

a flock of cranes flees towards the border; the sun irradiates the radio antenna

The edge extended turns into a ledge.

A membrane defended, a de-cathexis.

If de Sade was a forecalling for the dismemberment of God – as unifying principle, as psychic sop, as creative alienation – then this book reminds us, one at a time, to keep more than god dead: heads, civilization, culture, ever-declarative mouths, mirrors.

Apocalypse always.

Organised into seven chants across 378 pages the book charts the colonial wars within colonial wars within the interior of an archipelago’d people colonised.

Only sphincters move. Shit on this.

Read it aloud? There would be a risk, in voicing the force of primordial massacres, in mouthing the ur-brutalities done to children and horses, of taking it on, in to some affectible inside, becoming it, being overheard, in single file, alone; becoming an emissary of more than auto-destruction: overdetermined willing will-lessness becomes a reflex of urge appeasement minus the pleasure.

Desire dies, is replaced by ash-grey doves and mouth foam.

Solidarity breaks-out via incest, pimp deals, slaver alliances.

Soldier vampires loll, fuck, prod, rape, shoot, sever, cut, burn, bleach, turn tail, ring noses, vultch, displace populations, wait for furniture…

Soldiers captured in their own barrack-blocks like boxed goods, free now but for the wire.

As a colonial war it tags the body bags of disposable slaves and carves up still seeping territories with the precision of a biblical back-sliding time machine. Are we in an Old Testament still replaying the virtues of war revealed as sensuousalised unstatistical slaughter?

Our daily bread. Pain is the most profitable of all the feelings.

There are no camps in this book.

No round-ups.

No gaslight mornings.

Here, humanity-x has outlived even its sadistic use value.

Among the dead bodies mechanical shovels lift new-born children with smashed skulls; they originate in forced copulations

Puss in the sand.

Oil blood runs to rust colour as it rivulets through jackalised corpse mounds.

The second coming? Meaningful only to necrophiliacs.

Nothing is depicted, established exactly. Externalised in action without forethought event follows event in an orgy of purple empiricism. Uncommentable upon, unpleasing, unrewarding. Immersing.

That there is no room in this dense eleven point for moral intelligence or proud marginality may be a good thing. Where did these things ever get us?

To our own mis-allied colonial wars seeking mock power, influence, respect.

Here the written word is sought to be unleashed back into the non-discursive flicker of jump cuts spliced with the small hair curls of a million semi-colons.

Is this an acerbic epic of self-castigation: its author served in Algeria, sided with the rebels, was tortured and then returned to re-live it and relive it and relive it and relieve it.

Did he resurrect God from the dead?

More male characters: lerissos, Doucen, Serge, Crazy Horse… Phallus-wielders all.

Men in uniforms, in rags. Living in caves, warren castles, dumps, shanty towns, tanks, looted villas.

Expendable bodies speaking to each other in a kind of misfiring might of epical reverie.

The overflow of horror without narrational context, has left each and everyone on the verge of extinction: enter a character/exit a character, enter tenderness/murder tenderness. For now, in an excess of presentness inaccessible to hope, expecting, almost willing, the quickest expenditure of the cheapest of all the economic variables, there is a kind of living hysteria, as if the permanent time here, throughout the centuries, is seven or less minutes to midnight.

It is this hysteria, its animal energy and, also, the fallback onto psychosis that spares the book the mass suicides that would end it 1

At this pitch of survival (“beyond the barrier of terror”) there can be no fear.

Fucking, a loveless valve. A beaten time, a little preparatory death.

The human generates no affect. The affect always from outside, crossing in, as a vaguely veiled romanticism:

over them hover large white and violet butterflies. The dust from their wings falls on the sentries’ dry lips

Respite for the author? Recipes for the readers?

Affect comes as a chance, an unintended interruption, overtaking, taking us into its alchemical homestead, its sex-lab. We use it in order to be again. This copulation with affect; the orchid and the bee, the umbrella and the dissecting table: as concretely abstract as desiring-perception.

Are we meant to notice this butterfly dust? Drool over it? We cannot help it, clinging as we are, here in the bunkered archipelago of colonies, to some filament that isn’t sperm, blood, cornea juice.

Smashing record players and harmoniums the rebels are immune to affect. We must take it as read that they are in fact rebels. Like the colonial troops they jerk themselves off without phantasmal backing. This latter is provided to the ones who, outside the book, issue the orders but, besides, how could order-ideology be received when consciousness has been made redundant by continual apocalypse. Affect could help. A last recourse to perception in a time before the primal? But the rebels have no ear for music.

Characters, readers, authors. No one knows where they are. Most are at least numbed by the behaviourist relaxation of orgasm. No seers in the ditch of daily bread.

Cruelty circulates alongside living kid currency like an accidental fratricide.

they beat you like mirrors

twice the price of the lay for the damage

The recruiters have warehouses where child-whores suck-off and fuck dogs before being disabandoned and donned and domed in mounds of sewer spill and skewered land cracks.

Eras elide. Fault lines. Swamp slop.

Ancient weapons are dredged up.

Democracies elect Chieftans.

Thermal powers stations are totems in which monkeys mate.


the moon is resting on the orientation table”

and, always, outside eye, the seismic relieved anxiety of

“granitic chaos”

So, something clashing, twisting, reverberating outside of the human shell, is one half vector of a limping hope in this book.

The inhuman poetry of the unperceived (shards of ‘messianic time’ in dust form) meets the alchemy of eras and errors, meets The Sea, meets an extra-familial rebirth backed by ructions in evolution.

So, description slowly accretes as geology undergoes almost imperceptible cosmotic changes:

the red sand slides down cliff and quarry slopes”

“the mountain peaks capsize”

“the continents draw nearer”

One character gets to peer into the future: “she sees through the cliff holes the starlit sky where stars flow from one to the other

So, cosmic sex, non-exclusive desire, is an option just as characters are emplaced:

Thivai, Xaintrailles, Iliten etc.

So, orphan armies of child whores, like Artaud’s six daughters of the heart, can become the reeling rebels of a los Olvidados revolution:

the brothel, it’s my element… You learned science, I was learning love… I know how to be black, yellow, red, negro, viking, greek, rowing slave

You without childhood and I killing mine, we can love each other as if abandoned… We are wanted but I kill my father… slaughter priests

“– My name is Antigone. I had my first period this summer

— I, Winnetou, I killed my mother

Because I’m a bastard child I don’t exist… one record card less

So, it’s all leading to the Seventh Chant, the end, the deluge, the apocalypse always and ever. And this is our way, signposted as water rises in the city: from Thilisi Gorge to Hill 720 to the Tower of The Pig.

The earth does not crack up. The earth does not implode into its core of cess, into its capitalised vaults seething with inflationary baby heads (new vials). It does not spin away into the cosmos as if thrust through by an atom-splicing phallus borne by a do-gooder God. No, the sea rises without Neptune and a wave comes to replenish the living stone; a geological reverberation of tectonic plates that helps mix sludge and semen.

This is the long game. A re-eden. A reverse founding myth in a book that hasn’t the out of an establishing narrative.

Conscious of having crossed aeons by page, the human folds away into its surroundings and, thus there, it recoils from even the memory of the human. It seeks a new form.

Kment makes love to the soil / Giauhare to a wolf / The Sea to The Earth

It is a new beginning.


No Noah but a bestiary of ‘invertebrate larvae’ upon beds of star debris.

At last, a lack of fit: if capital has anthropomorphised then here, in the Seventh Chant, we are witness to the chance that humanity has de-anthropomorphised, become extinct.

Roll the dice. It will fall through the crater of an eye socket to what was once the sewer of a slaves’ prison.

Put away thus, exfoliating its skin, the human could become ego-less. Thus ego-less the human could no longer yearn to be represented as an anthropormorphic thing. Thus without ‘will’ we would think that this human is incapable of changing anything and worse, accepting of being the speck across aeons to which things are done. But does not Guyotat set the dawning impossible for revolution: the ego-less seeking a way back to a new kind of willing?

Howard Slater

May-June 2007

1 Author/Characters/Readers: “The person splits into a psychic being of pure knowledge that observes the events from the outside, and a totally insensitive body.” – Sandor Ferenczi: The Clinical Diary, Harvard University Press, 1985, p.104.

Related Posts

  • Six HurtsShort story by Dan Hekate from Datacide 3. He had achieved what had always been his ultimate goal. As his form had wilted and crumbled before his creation he felt a wave of ecstasy shoot through. And as the rush expanded to reach its summit, his head exploded sending a greyish red matter splattering against the surrounding surfaces; the sub…
  • Mr. Chairman, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,I would like to thank the Organisation for this opportunity, but before I start this speech I also would like to thank all of those who have contributed to this success. I don’t have the words to express my gratitude. What the hell is this? The longest fucking speech you’ve ever heard with long and boring sentences. You get it,…
  • BUTECH WANTS YOU!we have to leave, that much is for certain. whether it's part of the great plan or not, this island is terminal - so rat. [after a mysterious tip (origin unknown) and finding myself rummaging around a dusty junkshop on an island within the ring-o-fire, i finally came across the material i had long suspected to exist - the true…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.